With stars in his eyes

Off the air

With stars in his eyes

Beware, the ‘Muffler Man’ is on the loose, and Bollywood is his next target. “Actually, it is NASA but, well, Bollywood is good for now,” laughs Abhilash Thapliyal, adding that he has had the most absurd dreams, and they have come true. “Now if I say NASA is on my radar, maybe it really is,” he quips.

For now, this online sensation and RJ at 93.5 Red FM, hosting its ‘KaanPhaad’ show in Mumbai, has enough excitement packed right here. He is making his Bollywood debut in Makhna alongside Saqib Saleem and Taapsee Pannu.

“To be honest, I didn’t know what I was signing up for,” he says. “Being from Delhi, the only production houses I knew of in Mumbai were Dharma Productions and YashRaj Films,” he says. Abhilash received a call from Amit Sharma whom he had got acquainted with in Delhi when he used to host his morning show Tevar at Fever FM. “When he told me that his partner Alia Sen was making a movie, and that I had been invited to join the cast, I was happy but not sure of what it meant. When I went to Vashu Bhagnani’s office, I knew this was big. I googled on the spot to figure out how big it actually was.”

Big debut calling
He wasn’t asked to audition. He was straight into the project and flying to London for the shoot. It was then that it dawned on him that he was starring with Saqib and Taapsee. “I really like Saqib’s work and though I didn’t know Taapsee personally, I knew about her work too. I was over the moon,” he says. Abhilash plays Prashant, a fresh-out-of-college Delhi guy, in the film. “My character is very thick with Saqib’s character in Makhna. My aspiration is to become a property dealer. It’s a cute romcom.”

Besides his debut, Abhilash has one more film in the offing. Yet under wraps, this is a political drama. “It is based on true incidents at the Delhi University. I am playing one of the four guys around whose life this one is based.”

On the television circuit too, Abhilash is in demand. He is developing a web series titled Judgemental with Being Indian. This is a series of short five to six minute videos that depict everyday situations and reactions to them, making us judge every person’s alter-ego. “The attention span of people is reducing. That’s why I like trying out different formats. I like to be multifaceted. I keep wishing and it keeps happening,” reiterates Abhilash.

On the radio
The man’s popularity has largely been due to his radio shows and his current radio segment ‘Shendi’, and the cherry on top of that cake is his going viral with ‘Muffler Man’. Targeted at every aam aadmi, this is among the few political satires of our age. “I really feel that there is a lot we can do in the space of political satire but there is not enough being done. It sadly reveals the bankruptcy of creativity,” he laments.

For the Delhi guy, shifting to Mumbai and getting used to the Mumbai locals has been an adventurous journey. “I am often asked if shifting base to Mumbai from Delhi was a great idea. I’d say it was, but I can speak only for me. I can’t say that it’d be great for any other person. It worked well for Shah Rukh Khan, and maybe that even inspired thousands of other people to follow. But each one needs to understand his/her own capacity. I keep extending myself and experimenting with new things. And I have survived. With some more luck, my next tune-in might be from NASA,” he signs off.

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